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The GAT - is it really a waste of time?

Each and every year I hear the same comments from students regarding the GAT (or General Achievement Test) such as: " It's such a waste of time "or " If I can't study for it, I'm not going to really try in it " etc, etc. These attitudes are nothing new...in fact back when I did my VCE all of my mates thought exactly the same thing, primarily because I didn't understand what it really did (nor did many of my teachers) and why it is important for you to give your best effort.

Here is what the GAT is, what it does, and why it is important for you to do your best...particularly if you are an "average" student. You can read more about the GAT as part of your VCE Exams Navigator resource you should have received as part of your preparation for the mid-year VCE exams.

What is the GAT?

A 3 hour general achievement test, that examines your skills and knowledge in written communication, maths and sciences as well as the humanities areas. The exam contains 70 multiple choice questions (2 hours approx) plus 2 written tasks (about 30 mins each). It is important to do as best as you can because it can act like an "insurance policy" for you and your VCE exam performance. Here's how...

What does it do?

The results of the GAT help to do 4 things...

Checks that your internally marked assessments (SAC's and SAT's have been correctly marked) - it helps to form part of the process of statistical moderation of marks.
Validates externally assessed exams. Usually exams are marked twice by two different assessors (depending on the subject). If there is a significant discrepancy between the two assessment grades it can be marked a third time. If this result doesn't correlate with your school's indicative grade (their prediction on how they think you will go on your subject exam) and your predicted score (based on your GAT performance) then a flag is raised which gets your exam performance reviewed again. According to the VCAA - your exam performance won't go down, it could stay the same or actually increase.
If you are ill, injured or experience personal hardship around the exams you can apply for a Derived Examination Score - your GAT performance is important to help determine that Derived Examination Score. A poor GAT performance may effect this Derived Examination Score.
Lastly...GAT results are accessible to Universities and Higher Education Institutions. Whilst these institutions aren't meant to use these results to help select VCE graduates for their courses I want you to stop and think for a moment...

If you had 2 students who had identical ENTER scores for a particular course (and there was only 1 course position remaining), Student "A" performed very well on the GAT and Student "B" performed poorly...which student do you think would be offered the placement. That's right!

Whilst the VCAA hasn't stated that Universities actually use the GAT results you can bet that if Universities have access to those results they could use that information for their "middle band" selection process. It's simply another way of selecting the best possible candidate for that position.

So the bottom line is...

It is important but it's not worth getting too stressed over...particularly there is little that you can in the way of preparation. You can, however, review the structure and type of questions you could be asked in the "Written Communication" writing tasks - check out past copies of the GAT here. I know many schools actually run practice GAT sessions to help refine student's writing skills in preparation for these important tasks - talk to your VCE English teachers for some additional help and advice when preparing for this.

Obviously it is important that you give your best effort, and for the Yr 11's amongst us it will be probably the first time that you have had to sit still for a 3 hour exam!. That experience alone will be really beneficial for your future 3/4 exams and the Unit 3/4 VCE English exam next year.

Lastly...you can bring in an English or English Lote Dictionary (not thesaurus) but no electronic calculators or dictionaries are permitted. Bring plenty of blue, black pens along with pencils/eraser etc.

Good luck with it and always give it your best effort...you never know...you might just be the person that needs to draw upon your GAT performance for a derived exam score later this year!

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